Sunday, October 19, 2014

Rachel Maddow Bitch Slaps Senate Democrats

I'll say this for Rachel Maddow, she doesn't pull any punches. If she's got something to say, she says it.  In an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Maddow didn't mince words when she said that Democrats who distance themselves from the White House and President Obama deserve to lose the Senate.

"So, Republicans spent the last, hmm, six years decrying Obamacare as the end of the world. Now we have Obamacare. It’s kind of working. Costs are down, lots of people signed up, sky didn’t fall. Literally, it’s working the way it’s supposed to. Millions of people have health care who didn’t have it before. Working.

"So the Republicans’ reason for living has just disappeared. The main thing they like to talk about, they can no longer talk about. If your opponent loses the thing that they’ve been using as a crutch for six years and you just let them walk away from it like it never existed, maybe you don’t deserve to win.  They just don’t have the killer instinct it takes to make their opponents pay for a big mistake and I don’t understand why the Democrats are doing that."


Maddow has hardly been alone in her criticism of Democrats. A few months ago, Michael Tomasky wrote a piece in The Daily Beast back in February virtually echoing Maddow's sentiment. To sum up Tomasky urged Democrats to "collect stories of success" on Obamacare to "confront the party of no." It was his belief that if Democrats did that they could persevere in November.

In another piece, Tomasky backed that up with actual data. He cited pollster Geoff Garin, who worked for losing Democratic candidate Alex Sink, who found that far from being a "drag" on her campaign, Obamacare proved to be "more of a lift." And it should be noted Sink was hardly one of the law's most ardent supporters.

Wow, that's quite a finding. But it isn't inconsistent with what other Democratic pollsters have been discovering. The problem with Obamacare is the name in front of word care. The President's low approval numbers have been like an albatross around the necks of the law's proponents, thus prompting many of them to run away from it.

But behind all the scare tactics that the GOP has employed over the last six years is an undeniable fact. When you get right down to it, most people actually like the components of the law, even if they don't necessarily like its name. And it's this paradox that has Maddow, Tomasky and even me - yes, yours truly wrote a piece about this very topic - all up in arms.

I have long held that it was a failed strategy for Democrats to distance themselves from a law everyone in the Milky Way galaxy knows they were responsible for passing. It was a no-win scenario that played right into the hands of the GOP. Voters can tell when a candidate is hedging. Alison Grimes' ridiculous response to a simple question on whether she voted for Obama is a case in point. There was only one correct answer to that question: "Yes, I voted for Obama." If she had done that the whole thing would've gone away. Instead, she made a mountain out of a molehill and sounded like she had something to hide. That's the political equivalent of suicide.

All over the map, Democrats are having similar homina, homina moments. They have been on the defensive when they should've been on the offensive. They haven't so much made the case for why Republicans should be elected so much as they've helped make the case for why they shouldn't. Given the low approval numbers of the GOP in general, that's disgraceful and Maddow is right for calling out Democrats for being so lame.

You often see football teams employ the prevent defense to protect a lead. But that typically implies they have one to protect. The Democrats had no such lead going into this election. Everyone knew that. At best they were tied with the Republicans. History shows that in tied games, the team that goes on the offensive usually wins the game. Going three and out is a sure-fire way to lose.

Now I'm certainly not going to say that every single Democrat up for re-election this year has phoned it in. That would be unfair. In New Hampshire and North Carolina, for instance, the Democratic candidates have gone after their Republican opponents. As a result, they are ahead in their respective races. And let's be honest, Arkansas and Louisiana are deep Red states that in a midterm election would be difficult for Democrats to win under any circumstances.

But in Purple states like Colorado and Iowa, there is no excuse for Democrats to be trailing in either race, especially given that both went for Obama in 2012. When you factor in that Republican governors are in trouble in Wisconsin, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Florida, it's even more embarrassing. Yes, presidents in their sixth year typically lose seats in Congress, but others, like Bill Clinton, actually picked up a few.  Considering how badly both parties are viewed by the voters, this didn't have to be the clusterfuck that it is shaping up to be.

Time is running out on the Democrats, if it hasn't already. Most pollsters will tell you that there is little, if any, needle movement in the polls in the final week before an election.  That leaves about a week for them to decide whether they want to go all out and try to win or simply go out with their tails between their legs. Given their history, the latter is looking pretty good.

1 comment:

Prof. Walter Jameson said...


As much as I respect Rachel Maddow's views, I don't believe she has this one correct. Republicans still control the message on the ACA. Why is that so? The reason is that the ACA, at best, is a mixed bag among the electorate. Has it done some good? Yes, indeed it has. Who has it helped the most? It's helped uninsured young adults up to the age of 26 maintain coverage through their parents' employer-provided plans. It has helped those with pre-existing conditions, who may have lost coverage through no fault of their own, to obtain new coverage. And it has helped those whose situations make it impossible to afford any coverage to finally be able to obtain some basic benefits, mainly through the expansion of Medicaid. These are all good things, no question about it. So how do Republicans continue to control the message on the issue? It's an easy one to see when it's all laid out. The largest demographic that actually takes the time to vote is not affected by the ACA; they're covered under Medicare. So they're out of the picture on this one. Let's take a look at the groups who are helped the most by the ACA. Do they regularly vote or have any type of influence in large numbers? I do not know for certain about those who have pre-existing conditions. In the aggregate, their numbers are probably not that significant, statistically, to influence elections one way or the other. Regarding the uninsured young adults who are now covered under their parents' plans, they generally don't vote in large numbers and have very little political influence. What about the largest group that has benefitted from the ACA, i.e.: those who are now covered under Medicaid? Well, they don't vote in large numbers either, and have little to no political influence.

Now, who has the ACA pissed off? A whole bunch of middle and working-class individuals who had coverage that they liked and who were forced out of that coverage by the Act. In a lot of cases, and I mean A LOT of cases, the new coverage was found to be substandard to the old. It was also found to be more expensive. These people's lives have been greatly inconvenienced by the ACA and they are NOT happy one bit. And do you want to know something else? There is a significant number of these people out there .... and they VOTE. And this time, they are VERY motivated to vote.

I'm a bit surprised that Ms. Maddow doesn't know this; it's not proprietary academic research. I'm a whole lot less surprised, however, about the other individual that you're often fond of quoting. He's probably a bit distracted, waiting for the invitation to arrive for Lally Weymouth's next Georgetown cocktail party.

So there is your reason, sir. Makes perfectly good sense now, doesn't it? As far as the upcoming election is concerned, the Senate shifts by one: 51 (R) - 49 (D).

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.